In celebration of the fabulous article and picture of her in The Independent, and to illustrate her diversity, I thought I would share the review she wrote of one of my talks last year...
I was lucky enough to be invited to the September meeting of the New Eastbourne Writers by their guest speaker, celebrity biographer Nigel Goodall. This wasn’t the first time I’d heard Nigel talk so I was very excited to go along and listen to some more of his stories, and see if I could pick up some more advice about how to help my own writing career, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Nigel began the evening with an overview of how he got to where he is now, and how during a break from his “day job” as a graphic designer, he got an unexpected opportunity to write a Cliff Richard book that he only ever thought of as a one-off, and never the springboard for a career in writing. He told us how he came to write a few more pop music books to pay the rent during a lull in his graphic design career and ended up writing biographies about some of the biggest names in showbusiness.
It was fascinating to hear about the pitfalls and the intricacies of the publishing business and how his first serious biography about Winona Ryder took over two years to reach the bookshelves. Nigel described how he overcame the problems and disappointments of the original publisher of his book going into liquidation just two weeks before the book was due to be published!
Nigel had so many funny stories about his different books, such as how he had to pad out his Fearne Cotton biography with stories about other celebrities as the word count was about 10,000 words short of publishing requirements; and how his book on David Tennant received literally terrible reviews everywhere, was boycotted by the Doctor Who Fan Club and even had a scathing blog dedicated to the book and himself! But receiving bad reviews, Nigel said, is not the end of the world. Tennant was the prize example. The book recouped its money in two months, never had any returns, completely sold out and became a bestseller. "And all that without one decent review!" Nigel also had some other amazing insights to share about approaching some of his biography subjects via their agents, and the frustrating routine of having potential interviewees change their mind after being warned off by the celebrity or their reps.
Something that interested me was the part of his talk about ebooks, and how it has affected the publishing industry. For instance, there are many digital distributors and publishers that will now take your book and convert it into all formats from the Kindle to the iPad - and make it available on sites like Amazon, iBooks, WHSmith and Waterstones. Some, like Andrews UK who have converted some of Nigel's bestsellers into ebooks, will even design a cover for you. The only drawback in the print vs digital war is that an author will have to self-publicise and self-market his/her own work, unlike print publishing where all the marketing and pr is part and parcel of a publishing deal. As Nigel explained, ebook publishing has its advantages and disadvantages. The joy of ebook self-publishing, he explained, is the freedom you have with writing your story. No deadlines, no editors screaming at you and no extra hidden costs deducted from royalties.
But overall, as Nigel pointed out, during his 90 minute talk, there has never been a better time for new unpublished writers, who perhaps dream of becoming the next JK Rowling or Stephenie Meyer. Suddenly writers are not faced with rejection letters if self publishing on Amazon. But its also changed for readers too. With so many now using Amazon’s self publishing platform, without the need for a publisher or distributor, there will obviously be some titles with sub-standard writing, editing and poor story-telling. He had some really useful advice for the group about how to go about getting published and how to market yourself using social networks like Facebook and Twitter, as well as giving details about his website.
Some key advice which I took on board was to know your audience. Know who you are aiming your stories at and to make sure you cater for the right market. And if you want to get into print, research the publishers so that you know you are submitting your story to the right publisher. No point in sending a romantic novel to a publisher of sci-fi fiction. What was really interesting about Nigel’s talk was that he made the impossible sound possible. He had, he said, travelled the world, appeared on TV in different countries and had his stories of the famous published the world over in different languages and formats.
Nigel concluded his talk by saying he literally has had been very lucky and had thoroughly enjoyed every moment of what he called a fantastic trip, doing and achieving things he never thought were feasible, and visited places he never dreamed of visiting. He encouraged everyone at the talk to follow their heart and passion, that if you think you have a story to tell, then you should write it down and turn it into a book. Today it is a lot easier to get published than it was when he started twenty years ago. And you never know where it will lead, which is something I can definitely agree with as I am sure most other members of N.E.W can!